Coups d’état are generally headline grabbers and considered peculiarities of the less developed nations in the west, including in Britain, yet western media and governments do not refer to some of them as coups and choose complete silence about others. That is what happened about the alleged 1960’s and 1970’s coups in the UK, which is touted as the mother of all parliamentary democracies in the world.
BBC examined parts of the evidence related to plots to overthrow former British Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in military coups exactly thirty years after his shock resignation on March 16, 1976, in a documentary named “Plot Against Harold Wilson”. The documentary presented evidence in the form of interview with other senior figures of the time that Wilson was right to fear military coups by MI5 and senior military officers though it followed the line of legitimate concerns that Wilson was a Soviet spy to justify the spy agency’ plan.
Barrie Penrose, one of the journalists, whose evidence was used to make the documentary, wrote in an article for a Radio Times March 2006 edition that “Wilson spoke darkly of two military coups which he said had been planned to overthrow his government in the late 1960s and in the mid-1970s.” Penrose, who conducted interviews with Wilson after his resignation in 1976 and secretly recorded them with the help of a colleague Roger Courtiour, added that “both were said to involve high-ranking elements in the British army, eager to see the back of Labour governments. Both involved a member of the Royal Family – Prince Louis Mountbatten”.
Among the interviews in the documentary the one by Lord Hunt, who was Cabinet Secretary between 1973 and 1979 and conducted an inquiry into Wilson’s concerns that MI5 was bugging the Prime Minister’s office, was especially revealing. Hunt confirmed to the producers of the program that the secret service was indeed taking steps against Wilson’s government. Hunt, however, refused to accept the idea of a coup claiming the MI5 were acting under the suspicion that Wilson is a Soviet spy.